What is temperature mapping?

Put simply, temperature mapping (also called ‘warehouse mapping’ or ‘thermal mapping’) is the process of installing data-logging sensors throughout a room or unit – from fridge-freezers to entire warehouses – to monitor and analyse temperature data.  By strategically placing these sensors in pre-determined locations, often in a grid format, temperature mapping allows you to identify hot and cold spots.

In doing so, you are able to better manage your storage products, which can become unusable or even dangerous if kept in improper conditions. An example is the impact of air handling units (a common feature of most storage spaces) on a unit’s air flow, which can result in unmapped temperature fluctuations, and an overheating of stored medicines or food items.

Why is temperature mapping important?

Temperature mapping is particularly crucial in units which store TTSPPs, or time and temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical products. However, this also extends to most manufactured goods, as stipulated by the MHRA Inspectorate – the main driver of regulations in the food and pharmaceutical industries. At a minimum, compliance companies must comply with GDP (Good Distribution Practice) guidelines for production, transportation, and storage conditions.

Guidelines and regulations aside, temperature mapping should be a high priority for manufacturers who want to avoid wasting inventory. It is a process carried out cyclically by some of the biggest names in food and manufacturing, from the Culina Group, to Nestle, to the Müller Group. While most companies abide by GDP guidelines, regular temperature mapping is a service that can distinguish your compliance and safety standards from the rest of the crowd.

When is temperature mapping needed?

Specifically, there are five main situations which require temperature mapping:

1. New Equipment – A standard qualification process must occur when a new piece of critical equipment is installed. As part of the fully documented verification process, The World Health Organisation requires all new temperature storage areas to be mapped before the installation is commissioned and handed over by the installer.

2. Repaired Equipment – After a unit is mended and restored to full working capacity, it is common to remap and test it to ensure that it operates as expected.

3. Relocated Equipment – When a unit is moved, its performance can be significantly impacted. Requalifying and remapping is therefore a logical preventative measure.

4. Periodic Testing – For autoclaves and other sterilisation instruments, continuous remapping once every year or so is a fairly common approach, while this can extend to several years for storage areas, such as walk-ins or warehouses. As you’d expect, the more frequent this periodic testing takes place, the lower the chance of malfunctioning equipment.<

5. External Environmental Conditions – Storage areas are often impacted by the building’s outside temperature. In the extremes of seasons like summer and winter, it is advisable to test these areas on a consistent basis.

How is temperature mapping carried out?

Initially, the duration of the temperature mapping should be determined by the type of equipment. Your site may already have a Validation Plan or standardised procedure in place with mapping durations detailed. The table below offers some typical examples:

Equipment Typical Mapping Duration
Fridge, Freezer, Incubator 24 to 72 Hours
Cold Store 24 Hours to 7 Days
Warehouse 7 Days

Once the duration is decided, the next stage is to select the type of test. For temperature controlled units such as fridges, freezers, and incubators, the testing method should be identified during risk assessment. Examples of common tests performed include:

  • Temperature Distribution Test (Empty)
  • Temperature Distribution Test (Loaded)
  • Door Open Test
  • Power Off Test

Additional tests that may be performed if required for the product or process: Temperature Distribution Test (Partially Loaded) Temperature Penetration Test (Loaded) Pull Down Test For some storage environments, such as warehouses, it may not be possible to perform some of the testing. An example of this is an empty distribution map, either power off or door open. There may also be additional testing requirements unique to that environment, which could include:

  • Compressor Switch-Over Tests
  • Compressor Failure Tests

Getting started with temperature mapping

Aside from these initial considerations, temperature mapping is a thorough process that has to be carried out correctly. Other factors such as the number of sensors, the placement of sensors, and the choice of data logging equipment must all be considered.

That’s why most industry professionals recommend delegating this responsibility to a UKAS-certified organisation with verifiable experience. They can provide an all-encompassing report on your storage area’s hot and cold spots, and recommendations regarding the fitting of air handling, conditioning, or cooling.

A temperature mapping report should include:

  • Schematic floor plan of the area being mapped
  • Minimum, maximum and average temperature for each sensor
  • Data presented in both tabular and graphical format
  • Mean Kinetic Temperature (MKT), if required
  • Excursion analysis
  • UKAS calibration certificate for each sensor used within the mapping study
  • Raw data at 1 minute intervals provided as CSV files

How much does temperature mapping cost?

There are several factors that influence the price of a temperature mapping project, which is why a bespoke quote is needed for each project.

Some of the main factors include:

1. Self managed mapping or on-site support – Using Klipspringer’s plug-and-play option, self-managed mapping comes at a lower fixed cost and is dependent on the number of mapping points, as this governs the amount of sensors you will need to use. If you don’t want the hassle of self-managed mapping and would prefer an on-site service, the below factors will also influence the price.
2. Number of mapping points – The higher the number of mapping points, the longer it takes to set up, report on and pack up, so the price increases as the number of mapping points increases.
3. Accessibility –  The layout of the mapping points can determine how long it will take to map out your designated area. For example, mapping points spread across multiple buildings and in hard-to-reach locations will increase the amount of time (and possibly equipment) needed to complete the mapping.
4. Duration of mapping period – Similar to the number of mapping points, a longer mapping period will normally increase the mapping cost.  At Klipspringer, we include this in the quotation once we have understood your mapping requirements.

To give you an approximate costings guide, we’ve chosen two typical examples below:

Factors Scenario 1 Scenario 2
Size of warehouse Small Large
Number of mapping points 50 100
Type of monitoring Temperature only Temperature only
Accessibility status Easy access Easy access
On-site service Included Included
Pricing Guide £2,000 – £3,000 £4,000 – £6,000

At Klipspringer, our technical team has been awarded UKAS Accreditation, a testimony to our impeccable customer service and meticulous attention to detail. We offer both a rental service for applications where self-managed mapping is preferred (the ‘Plug & Play’ option), or a comprehensive temperature mapping service carried out by our team of experts at your site (the ‘Platinum’ option).

Whatever your situation, our knowledgeable team are on hand to help. Contact our team or send us a message using the form below:

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